Catch Me If You Can: Why First Time Offenders Should Complete a Shoplifter Education Program
By Caroline Kochman, Executive Director, National Association for Shoplifting Prevention
Although the criminal justice system may classify an adult or juvenile caught shoplifting as a “first offender” because they do not have a prior record in that jurisdiction, in truth, apprehended shoplifters are rarely first offenders.
The fact is that the vast majority of shoplifting incidents go undetected or unreported. Shoplifters say they are only caught 1 in 49 times they steal. They are prosecuted about 1 in 98 times, or about every other time they are caught. 13% of “first offender” shoplifters admit they steal from stores almost daily, 14% say they steal about weekly and 30% say they steal monthly.
In addition, NASP’s Risk Assessment tool consistently reveals that about 1/3 of those referred to NASP as “first offenders” (between 27% and 33%) are at high risk of repeating the offense based on their attitude, beliefs, perceptions and past behavior.
Therefore, it is important to include educational sanctions like the C. A. Partnership Program NASP offers in partnership with Turning Point Justice for all shoplifting offenders. This ensures offenders reevaluate their actions, address their misguided beliefs, adjust their attitude and ultimately improve their life. It is also in the best interest of the community as offense-specific education provides the best promise of low recidivism.
Facts about First-Time Offenders:
• 57% admit they steal monthly or more often
• 50% admit they have previously been caught and released by the store.
• 32% admit they have been in trouble with the law before
• 28% admit they plan their thefts in advance.
• 27% admit they have been shoplifting for more than 1 year
• 22% admit they are not 100% sure they won’t shoplift again.
• 35% say they want help to stop shoplifting.
• 89% of juveniles caught shoplifting say they know other kids who shoplift too.
• Psychological assessments reveal 30% of “first offenders” are at high risk of
repeating the offense.
• The average shoplifter steals 49 times before being caught.
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